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Neat-O: An Old-Fashioned Wiring Cleanup

Nothing worked correctly in this homeowner's system, which included 11 zones of audio, a home theater and more.

Geoffrey Oldmixon · November 6, 2009

With rewiring projects, Paul James of San Diego-based Wave Connects tries to quote clients both an ideal cost and a worst-case-scenario cost.

The problem, says James, is that it’s hard to know all that can be wrong with a home system without spending a good amount of time with it.

For example, this job turned out to be more involved than the homeowner had intended. “The bill ended up being about twice as much as the original estimate,” James says, “even after we discounted as much as we could.”

The job came to James as a referral. The owner of this large Mount Soledad home in La Jolla was the father of one of James’ clients.

The homeowner complained that nothing in his home was working correctly. His systems were pretty extensive, too. They included a Russound CAV6.6 system with 11 zones of audio, a home theater, a Speco DVR system with several cameras, gate entry and a couple of universal remotes.

“There was nothing working right at all,” James recalls. “Actually, most of the work was the home theater equipment shelves. It was a huge rat’s nest of wires.”

James says he’s done about 15 to 20 rewire jobs like this one, but this was the worst. “Wires were just disconnected. I was not impressed by [the previous installer’s] work.”

James, along with Robyn Finchum — the company’s San Diego manager — and technician Kevin Brown, took down every single wire, remade it and labeled it. “We had to take out all the speakers and check all their connections,” James says.

“Everything was installed improperly,” James explains. “There turned out to be a lot more problems than we expected.”

As a result, the homeowner was footing quite a bill. “We did the job on a hourly basis,” says James. “But we cut him a deal because he was not thrilled. He didn’t know it was going to be that involved. This was definitely the worst-case scenario.”

In the end, the homeowner was pleased, but James says it wasn’t easy getting the client to feel that way. “He was a pretty particular customer,” James recalls. “We kept coming back to more issues. We had to do a couple things for free just because.”

However, notes James: “I actually like customers like that. At least they appreciate what you do.”

Congratulations to Paul James for a Neat-O! installation. We’re looking for over-the-top projects. Cool, unique, tidy or meticulous, share your best work with our readers. E-mail your submissions, with high-resolution images, to managing editor Arlen Schweiger at

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  Article Topics

News · DVR · Home Theater · Multi-room Audio · Neat-O · Russound · Speco Technologies · All Topics
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